29th of August

The Decollation of St John the Baptist. St Sabina, martyr, 2d century. St Merri or Medericus, abbot of St Martin’s, about 700.

Born. – John Henry Lambert, distinguished natural philosopher of Germany, 1728, Mülhausen
Died. – St John the Baptist, beheaded, 30 A.D.; Pope Pius VI., 1799.


The schoolmaster of the parish of Corstorphine, Edinburghshire, enjoys the profits of an acre of ground on the banks of the Water of Leith, near Coltbridge. This piece of ground is called the Lamp Acre, because it was formerly destined for the support of a lamp in the east end of the church of Corstorphine, believed to have served as ‘a beacon to direct travellers going from Edinburgh along a road, which in those times was both difficult and dangerous.’1



August 29, 1750, there was decided a bet of that original kind for which the noted Earl of March (subsequently fourth Duke of Queensberry) shewed such a genius. It came off at Newmarket at seven o’clock in the morning. The matter undertaken by the earl, in conjunction with the Earl of Eglintoun, on a wager for a thousand guineas against Mr Theobald Taafe, was to furnish a four-wheeled carriage, with four horses, to be driven by a man, nineteen miles within an hour. A contemporary authority thus describes the carriage: ‘The pole was small, but lapped with fine wire; the perch had a plate underneath; two cords went on each side, from the back-carriage to the fore-carriage, fastened to springs. The harness was of fine leather covered with silk. The seat for the man to sit on was of leather straps, and covered with velvet. The boxes of the wheel were brass, and had tins of oil to drop slowly for an hour. The breechings for the horses were whalebone. The bars were small wood, strengthened with steel springs, as were most parts of the carriage, but all so light, that a man could carry the whole with the harness.’ Before the carriage was decided on, several others had been tried. Several horses were killed in the course of the preliminary experiments, which cost in all about seven hundred pounds. The two earls, however, won their thousand guineas, for the carriage performed the distance in 53 minutes 27 seconds, leaving fully time enough to have achieved another mile.

1  Sinclair’s Statistical Acc. of Scotland, xiv. 449.

On this Day in Other Sources.

They moved to Glasgow, on the 29th. On the morrow, they marched with their army, towards Hamilton: But, learning, on the way, that the rebels had thence departed, that morning, for Edinburgh, the royal army returned to Glasgow… 

On the same day, the 29th of August [1565], that the Queen arrived at Glasgow, the rebels entered Paisley, with a thousand horsemen. But, finding themselves too weak, to oppose the royal army, they marched to Hamilton, on the 30th; and proceeded on the 31st, to Edinburgh, where the rebels were as much disconcerted, by the quick movement, of their pursuers, as by the proclamation, which warned their followers, to return, quietly, to their homes. From Edinburgh, the rebels sent messengers everywhere, imploring aid, in so good a cause: They here invited every one, by beat of drum, to join them, “for the defence of God’s glory:” But, these efforts were unavailing, though they were aided, by Knox’s sermons. 

– Life of Mary, pp.98-126.

Aug. 29 [1618]. – Mr John Guthrie, minister of Perth, ‘on ane Sunday after the afternoon’s sermon, married the Master of Sanquhar with Sir Robert Swift’s daughter, ane English knight in Yorkshire. Neither of the parties exceeded thirteen years of age.’ – Chron. Perth

– Domestic Annals, pp.177-227.

Enough of the manuscript – what of its author? The volume contains a considerable number of decisions in the Court of Session, it has some styles of writs and several brief articles on points of law, it contains elaborate disquisitions on the Commissary Court, it cites Justinian, Craig de Feudis, and “Balfour his Practiques,” and no less than ten pages are devoted to “Ane alphabeticall abridgment of the severall wryts contained in a certain stylebook.” These circumstances make it certain that the work is a lawyer’s. Whoever he was, he speaks as one who knew the contents of the Advocates’ Library, he must have had access to the papers of Heriot’s Hospital and to the records of the Town Council of Edinburgh, and his remarks display a close acquaintance with the history of the city. That he was an Edinburgh advocate seems, on these facts, all but certain, especially when his incidental mention of his other volumes is considered. Once he refers to “the other manuscript,” he cites a patent to the wine merchants as “in my folio law manuscript A 13 at 29 of August 1684;”… 

– Scots Lore, pp.78-84.


A friend had suggested I look out for gravestones with seashells decorating them. He wasn’t sure if they had any particular meaning. I did make a point of asking on the tour but was told they probably really are just for decoration rather than indicating a seafaring link to the occupant.

The inscription on the left reads:

DIED 29 AUGUST 1852. 

Glasgow’s Cathedral & City Necropolis.

Over this title Punch of last week gives a very exciting illustration. A towering cart load of ingathered grain, with a crowing cock on its summit, forms the background; while in front a recruiting officer and a party are cheered by the excited harvesters coming forward with reaping hooks in their hands, to volunteer for India, the banner borne by the officer representing the British lion in the act of springing on the Bengal tiger. The recruits, not yet returned from the harvest field, are all enthusiasm, and are eagerly rushing to enrol themselves among the avengers of the butcheries that have been perpetrated in our Indian empire. 


‘Willing Hands for India’, Punch, or the London Charivari magazine, vol. xxxiii, August 29, 1857. 

– Gloomy Memories, pp.183-186.



Binks. “Capital Costume for the ‘Ighlands in ‘Ot Weather; will look just like 

a Plaid at a little distance. Thank the Gals for the ‘int.” 

August 29, 1857., p.91.


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